Washington attorney Anna Batler writes on “faith, feminism, spirituality, and religious identity” for two different Jewish web sites, and has a column today at the interfaith site Patheos that takes on the story of Noah and the flood. The title, “Toying with Genocide,” probably tells you all you need to know, but let’s go a little further:
My daughter is not even two, but she already has several books and toys bearing the Noah’s Ark motif. The books and toys are produced by “all American” brands such as Fisher Price, and they include everything from plastic animal pairs to a book about the acceptance of difference—that explains that there is even room for cockroaches on the ark.
The presence of these books and toys in my young daughter’s world is disturbing when considering the story of Noah’s Ark. It is not a story that resonates with contemporary values. The flood is a chilling narrative of Divine retribution for human imperfection. Except for nine people, and two of each land animal, the entire inhabitance of our earth perished in a hopeless flood. Reinventing this particular narrative feels wrong, like we’re condoning God’s actions. In particular, the contemporary value of inclusion is utterly at odds with this story of utter exclusion. There was no room for us on the ark. The image of a child playing with Noah’s Ark ought to be a jarring one. Why isn’t it?
Why are we so complacent with this story that we decorate our children’s nursery with images that recall the eradication of almost all life? Perhaps it simply the hundreds of years this toy has been with us?
I mourn for the drowned earth. [Emphasis added.]
Me, I mourn for a conception of God that insists that the One whom the Passover haggadah repeatedly calls “Creator” and “King of the universe” is bound by our “contemporary values” and subject to having to pass muster with Washington lawyers.
The story of Noah is, among other things, about the radical holiness and righteousness of God in the face of human sin. It is also about the grace of God, who would have been well within His rights to have destroyed all of humanity, but who saved Noah and his family for the purpose of bringing eternal blessing to His creation. To suggest that God is guilty of “genocide” is not only blasphemous, but insists that the One who gave us all life has, in the act of creation, somehow surrendered any right to dispose of it in accordance with His perfect standard of righteousness, and must now be bound by our “contemporary values.” That would include, presumably, the “value” of “inclusion,” which is simply another way of saying, “include everyone of whom I approve, based on my politically correct standards rather than your Neanderthal ones.”
So by all means, Ms. Batler, don’t “condone” God’s actions–but when it turns that it’s you in the dock, rather than Him, don’t look for mercy to be given by the One from whom you demand justice.